In a letter to a Liberal Democrat peer, seen by The Independent, Ms Smith said there was no “real risk” of gay men and lesbians being discovered by the Iranian authorities or “adverse action” being taken against those who were “discreet” about their behaviour.
in her letter to Lord Roberts of Llandudno, Ms Smith rejected a call for an immediate halt to the deportation of gay and lesbian asylum seekers. “We recognise that the conditions for gay and lesbian people in Iran – and many other countries – are such that some individuals are able to demonstrate a need for international protection,” she wrote. “We do not, however, accept that we should make the presumption that each and every asylum-seeker who presents themselves as being of a particular nationality or sexuality, regardless of their particular circumstances, should automatically be … allowed to remain in the UK.
The idea that you will be safe from being executed if you pretend to be straight is inhumane and makes a mockery of a country claiming to defend human rights. The last “throwaway” sentence is an insult to asylum seekers and panders to the erroneous belief that there are hundreds of thousands of applicants every year with the government operating on the presumption that by far the majority are criminals. (23,610 in 2006) The reality is the numbers of people seeking asylum are small and they are not criminals. The statement is consistent with the governments attitude towards asylum seekers of disbelief and blaming the victim: – not believing claims; believing claims based on rape but saying unless they claimant can prove that the rape was part of a campaign of persecution against women then it is not valid; blaming the claimant for making a stand (for example in the case of a Zimbabwean, blaming him for protesting against Mugabe)